It’s important for good oral habits for kids to start early, and parents play a huge role in ensuring children take good care of their teeth. For busy parents with full schedules, here are some simple tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy.

Visit the dentist regularly

The best kind of dental care you can get is preventive care. No one likes going to the dentist to have cavities filled or teeth pulled, so make sure your kids get to a pediatric dentist early and often. Both the AAPD and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that your child visit the dentist by age 1. In addition to conducting a thorough oral exam, the dentist will obtain a dental history, guide parents on proper brushing habits and cavity prevention, and establish how often a child should visit due to their cavity risk assessment, among other things. In addition, the more often you visit the dentist, the more routine it becomes for your child, and less stressful for everyone. You’ll also be teaching your child good oral health practices to take into their adult life.

Keep sugary snacks to a minimum

Children love sticky, sweet, sugary treats. Unfortunately, so does the bacteria in kid’s mouths that can be cavity-causing, so it’s best to keep the sweets to a minimum, especially the sticky stuff that can easily get between teeth become more difficult to remove. Unfortunately, there are a few snacks that people may think are healthy, but pediatric dentists know that because of their stickiness or chewy texture, they can actually cause children’s teeth harm over time, so you want to avoid sticky, chewy foods. The best snacks for kid’s teeth include fresh fruit and crunchy vegetables.

Brush right after eating

It’s a good idea to try and teach kids the importance of not waiting too long after they eat to brush their teeth. While it’s recommended that kids brush twice a day, if they eat something sticky, sugary, suck on hard candy or consume a carbonated soda, it’s a good idea to get them in the habit of brushing soon afterwards whenever possible. If your kids aren’t somewhere that they can brush their teeth, teach them to rinse their mouth with water to wash away some of the cavity causing bacteria.

Get them to floss

Your child could be the best tooth brusher around but brushing alone won’t get rid of all the cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths, so make sure they floss, and start early! Once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six, parents should start to get their children in the habit of flossing daily. As they develop dexterity, you can help them learn to floss. The rule of thumb when children have the dexterity to floss on their own is when they can tie their own shoes.

Make brushing fun!

It’s important that parents help kids see brushing their teeth as something positive, even fun; not a burden that is done begrudgingly twice a day. If kids don’t have a positive attitude when it comes to brushing, they’ll skip brushing their teeth and will likely do a rushed, poor job when they do brush. So what can parents to do make brushing fun? Make a game out of it, dance while you brush your teeth, make up funny songs; anything to create a happy, positive atmosphere for kids while they brush. It may seem silly, but establishing positive, consistent brushing habits go a long way to a lifetime of good oral health for children, so make brushing and flossing their teeth something they enjoy. Check out different types of toothbrushes and toothpastes that your child might love. Some of us will do anything to make it a good experience for them.

Need more tips? Reach out to your pediatric dentist to see what tips they have to keep your child’s teeth healthy.